Obama’s Quietly Released “Insider Threat Policy” Memo
Barack Obama continues to release important information and executive orders late on Friday afternoons or around the time of holidays so that they are not as noticed by the public, or at least don’t get the media attention they should. Just prior to Thanksgiving, the White House published a memo from Barack Obama, in which he lays out guidelines for executive agencies to establish effective “insider threat programs.”
The memorandum was issued on November 21, 2013 and is titled National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs. It was issued to “heads of executive departments and agencies.” The short memo reads as follows:
This Presidential Memorandum transmits the National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs (Minimum Standards) to provide direction and guidance to promote the development of effective insider threat programs within departments and agencies to deter, detect, and mitigate actions by employees who may represent a threat to national security. These threats encompass potential espionage, violent acts against the Government or the Nation, and unauthorized disclosure of classified information, including the vast amounts of classified data available on interconnected United States Government computer networks and systems.
The Minimum Standards provide departments and agencies with the minimum elements necessary to establish effective insider threat programs. These elements include the capability to gather, integrate, and centrally analyze and respond to key threat-related information; monitor employee use of classified networks; provide the workforce with insider threat awareness training; and protect the civil liberties and privacy of all personnel.
The resulting insider threat capabilities will strengthen the protection of classified information across the executive branch and reinforce our defenses against both adversaries and insiders who misuse their access and endanger our national security.
While the memo seems to try and target “potential espionage, violent against the government and unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” it does not distinguish between those things and legitimate whistleblowers who are letting the American people know about corruption within the government.
Jesselyn Radack writes:
The memo equates disclosure of classified information with “violent acts against the government” and “Espionage,” a certainly inapt and chilling comparison considering that,
(1) that all experts agree that the classification system is broken and hopelessly plagued by overclassification,
(2) that the Obama administration made the mistake in the case of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Drake of prosecuting a whistleblower for Espionage in connection with mishandling classified information, only to have the case collapse when it turned out none of the supposedly-classified information was in fact properly kept secret, and
(3) that an employee taking violent acts to overthrow the government or conducting Espionage of the Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen variety is a rare occurrence whereas classified information appears on the front pages of national newspapers daily.
She went on to point out that “There is properly classified information that should be kept secret. However, Defense Department and National Security Council experts have estimated that anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent of classified documents could safely be made public.”
Doug Hagmann from Canada Free Press expounds upon the memo’s most important aspect. He writes that aspect “is reflected by a word that appears toward the end of the directive and should be considered the “key” to understanding the intent and action of Barack Hussein Obama. The word is “centrally,” and when it is considered in the context of Obama’s agenda we’ve seen being implemented over the last four years, it is chilling.”
“The key to understanding this memorandum is to understand that we are witnessing the greatest consolidation of power and control under the Executive branch of the government in recent U.S. history,” he continues. “This consolidation of power makes it possible for a select number of highly political “czars” and appointed officials to observe, control and report on the activities of people within their various departments to the Executive branch. This process creates a closed system of surveillance that cannot be easily penetrated by other branches of our government.”
Hagmann concludes, “Accordingly, it becomes a self-policing network that has the ability to silence critics and individuals opposing a particular agenda or activity, even if such dissent is lawful. Taken to its extreme, it gives Barack Hussein Obama the ability to redefine what constitutes a threat to the government, including treason. It’s no longer about the rule of law and one’s allegiance to the United States. It’s now about allegiance to the agenda of the Executive branch, assured by active surveillance of government employees by Obama’s hand-picked appointees.”
The problem with Obama’s memo, seems to be similar to that faced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the Senate, as he has placed a hold on the pending FY2013 Intelligence Authorization Act (section 509), citing objections to several of the proposed anti-leak provisions written in Title V of the bill.
“I am concerned that they will lead to less-informed public debate about national security issues, and also undermine the due process rights of intelligence agency employees, without actually enhancing national security,” the Senator said.
Wyden said that these kinds of legislative actions that would seek to limit the ability of the press to report on classified matters could very well undermine or even cripple the intelligence oversight process.
Sen Wyden said, “I have been on the Senate Intelligence Committee for 12 years now, and I can recall numerous specific instances where I found out about serious government wrongdoing–such as the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, or the CIA’s coercive interrogation program–only as a result of disclosures by the press.”
While there certainly are things that are clearly a matter of national security, the reality is that most Americans know that a huge amount of documentation in hte federal government is overclassified and such secrecy is more of a threat to the people then some “insider threats” from within. Exhibit A would be the Benghazi attacks and Exhibit B in this matter would be the unreleased documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.